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Parasite Immunol. 1999 Feb;21(2):57-71.

Cytokines and antibody responses during Trypanosoma congolense infections in two inbred mouse strains that differ in resistance.

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Department of Veterinary Microbiology, Western College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada.


We studied IL-4, IL-10 and IFN-gamma secretion by splenocytes and the plasma levels of different isotypes of antibodies against various antigens of Trypanosoma congolense in highly susceptible BALB/c and relatively resistant C57BL/6 mice during the early course of infection with T. congolense. The patterns of appearance of cytokine spotforming cells in the spleens were essentially similar in the two mouse strains although higher numbers were detected in the spleens of BALB/c than C57BL/6 mice on some days post-infection. However, the amount of IL-4, IL-10 and IFN-gamma secreted into the culture fluids was dramatically different. From day 4 forward, splenocytes from BALB/c mice secreted very high levels of these cytokines. In contrast, splenocytes from infected C57BL/6 mice did not secrete detectable levels of IL-4 throughout the period tested. The secretion of IL-10 and IFN-gamma by C57BL/6 splenocytes only became appreciable on day 6 and was down-regulated by day 8, when the first wave of parasitaemia was being controlled. At days 6-8, splenocytes from infected C57BL/6 mice secreted two-fold higher amounts of IL-12 p40 than those from BALB/c mice. Infected BALB/c mice mounted an earlier IgM antibody response to variant surface glycoprotein (VSG), formalin-fixed T. congolense and whole T. congolense lysates than did infected C57BL/6 mice. However, they failed to make any detectable IgG3 and IgG2a antibody responses to these antigens whereas infected C57BL/6 mice made strong IgG3 and IgG2a responses. We speculate that enhanced resistance against T. congolense infections in mice may be mediated by IL-12 dependent synthesis of IgG2 antibodies to VSG and possibly also common trypanosomal antigens.

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